Kyrgyz power broker arrested for tightening grip on new leader

Kyrgyz authorities on Tuesday detained a power broker accused of corruption against former President Sooronbay Jeenbekov, as a new acting leader seeks to consolidate power through an anti-graft campaign.

Kyrgyz power broker arrested for tightening grip on new leader

 

Former Deputy Customs Chief Rayimbek Matraimov was considered’ a major financial supporters of political parties and presidents, including Jeenbekov.

 

Jeenbekov resigned last week in the wake of protests following the disputed parliamentary elections on October 4, which ousted Makarov as prime minister and acting president.

 

Matraimov and other officials were part of "a corruption scheme set up to extract shady revenue during customs administration," the NSC said.

 

A scheme was launched’ in 2016, when Matraimov was still in office, causing "particularly massive damage" to the state budget.

 

Japarov promised to bring Matraimov to justice over claims in a media report that he was the center of a 700 million scheme in the impoverished republic.

 

He said last week that Matraimov was linked’ to "90 percent of state officials."

 

"What to do? Let only 10% work?" He asked.

 

Matraimov is seen’ as a key supporter of the Mekenim Kyrgyzstan Party, which won a parliamentary vote, as well as a party called Bermemek, which included Jeenbekov’s brother.

 

Last year, he was the target of protests led by civic groups who called on authorities to investigate the allegations in an anti-worker report.

 

The exact nature of Jeenbekov’s relationship with Matraimov was unknown, with some observers speculating that he was approaching the end of Jeenbekov’s tenure.

 

- Make a 'good show'.

 

But Jeenbekov, in particular, failed to pursue the criminal investigation into the targeting and money laundering that opened after the protests.

The publisher of the report, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, described Matraimov as the "gatekeeper of the Central Asian cargo empire underground."

 

A group of men beat Bolot Temirov, an investigative journalist, shortly after publishing a separate report on Matraimov's wealth.

 

"The new authorities need to do well as soon as possible," Temirov said.

 

"Matraimov's capture is a victory for them. But the danger is the same. (Matraimov) has the money and the influence."

 

Matraimov and Jeenbekov’s affiliated parties were accused’ of massive vote-buying, and the results were annulled after clashes broke out between police and supporters of opposition parties.

 

Japarov, 51, who claimed power less than two weeks before his supporters were released’ from prison, called himself a reformist in a speech on Friday, a day after Jeenbekov’s resignation.

 

The popular politician said the fight against corruption would "cease to be a means of eliminating political opponents", promising organized crime and "restricting its terms".

 

Amid media accusations of overnight rise to power during the post-election crisis, Japarov has angrily rejected suggestions that he has his own links to organized crime.

 

With parliamentary elections in December and presidential elections expected by mid-January, Japarov will still have to work to strengthen his grip on the former Soviet state.

 

So far, there is no indication that key ally Russia is recognizing its new role.

 

Prior to his release, he was serving a prison term for hostage-taking. The incident is related’ to an incident that took place in 2013 during a rally in support of the nationalization of a major foreign gold mine.

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